August 2008 Archives

The wretched refuse - bid thee come.

I want to revisit this quote - a quote that should be common knowledge. Alas, like most things these days Americans tend to be so unaware (positive bent) or willfully ignorant (negative bent) of those things which truly made this nation great.

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

"A line from a poem, “The New Colossus,” by the nineteenth-century American poet Emma Lazarus. “The New Colossus,” describing the Statue of Liberty, appears on a plaque at the base of the statue. It ends with the statue herself speaking..."

These, these are the people who for three hundred years have come to these shores. We did the native Americans no good, yet with them in their downtrodden state, these came. We did the Africans no good, yet with them in their downtrodden state, these came. So came those from nations all who sought to leave their oppression, their poverty, their plight to find new life in this place called America.

Here, here is the unfounded dream that they can make a life for themselves far beyond what they could have known in their old places. And they did, come. And they still, come! Here in New York City, in Vermilion, Ohio, in Seattle, Washington they come and they make for themselves a better life and they with us all continue to make America.

We forget our past and selfishly clutch to ourselves our own stuff material and ideological for fear that it will all be taken from us. We forget the Dream, but they do not. Do we not remember that it is because of those ancestors of ours that came and with the native Americans and with the Africans and with the poor, dirty, huddled masses of nations all that this America was apprehended and fashioned? If we forget, we condemn ourselves to become something other than America. Too many of us have forgotten, because now we only want the clean, the educated, the well-off, the right-thinking and right-behaving to come to our shores. Woe to those who in seeking to preserve their privilege deny and defy the very American spirit that enables us to draw the best of the world to our shores, even if at first they look not like us - the wretched, tired, dirty, poor, huddled masses all.

The Dark Night (of the soul)

The dark night is God’s attack on religion. If you genuinely desire union with the unspeakable love of God, then you must be prepared to have your ‘religious’ world shattered.

-Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury

Look out, McDonald's

McDonald's, the hamburger chain, is in big trouble! Oi!

First, the American Family Association has called for a boycott of the chain by anyone concerned about AFA's definition of "family-values." Why? Because by AFA's estimation, McDonald's has not "remained neutral" in the Culture Wars by "promoting the homosexual agenda." In other words, McDonald's does not abide by the demands of anti-gay forces such as AFA to not support in any way positive images of or groups related to gay people. The crime - McDonald's sponsors events and contributes money to gay causes (this time, specifically the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce).

Anything or anyone that does not side with AFA in its anti-gay agenda or capitulate to its demands is considered non-neutral, biased, or radical. Convenient, isn't it? They do know what "neutral" really means, but they spin the word for their own effect to try to manipulate people to their partisan, sectarian cause. It is a shame when so-called Christian groups do this kind of thing - just aping the worst of the world system.

It now seems that the "socially responsible" mutual fund, the Timothy Plan, has declared that they will no longer include McDonald's stock in their portfolio. Here is what they say, according to source (I can't find anything on The Timothy Plan website):

The president of a pro-family values mutual fund company says the extreme actions of McDonald's has forced the investment firm to publicly clarify that its portfolios won't include any stock in the worldwide hamburger retailer.

Timothy Plan's socially responsible investing includes screening of companies whose revenues or actions support pornography, abortion, anti-family entertainment, or promotion of non-married lifestyles. But Art Ally, president of the investment company, says his group normally does not spotlight or publish notices on businesses they screen out. In this case, however, he says the Timothy Plan could not stay silent when McDonald's went "over the edge."
Read the whole report...

The politicized Christian-right really has made an idol out of homosexuality, just like it's predecessors did out of Communism in the 70's and 80's. Fear mongering does tend to help raise money and gather legions of followers to your cause.


Today would have been an anniversary.

Heavy weights

It seems that major players are coming forward to push for a dramatic change from business as usual with regard to energy usage in the U.S.

Thomas Friedman has a new book entitled: Hot, Flat, and Crowded. Wired Magazine has an article about his call for a change in the way we all deal with this stuff.

Thomas Friedman is about to dive into the green-tech fray. In his latest book, Hot, Flat, and Crowded, the multi-Pulitzer-winning journalist says everyone needs to accept that oil will never be cheap again and that wasteful, polluting technologies cannot be tolerated. The last big innovation in energy production, he observes, was nuclear power half a century ago; since then the field has stagnated. "Do you know any industry in this country whose last major breakthrough was in 1955?" Friedman asks. According to the book, US pet food companies spent more on R&D last year than US utilities did. "The Stone Age didn't end because we ran out of stone," he says. Likewise, the climate-destroying fossil-fuel age will end only if we invent our way out of it. (emphasis mine)

Then there is T. Boone Pickens' plan. Recently, NBC refused to air his most recent commercial, the latest in a series where Pickens advocates for reducing our dependence on foreign oil by increasing our production of wind power and natural gas.

Here is the "Iran" commercial that is causes the rouse.

Post Knee Jerk

Okay, so, well my knee jerk reaction against Biden as Obama's running mate has subsided. Still don't like it so much, but there could have been far worse picks.

Then, there is this from JibJab

The ONE Campaign & American Prayer

They did a good job with this:

The ONE Campaign

See all the advert's on YouTube

This is good, too, whether you are a supporter or not. American Prayer - Dave Stewart (Barack Obama Music Video)

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

"A line from a poem, “The New Colossus,” by the nineteenth-century American poet Emma Lazarus. “The New Colossus,” describing the Statue of Liberty, appears on a plaque at the base of the statue. It ends with the statue herself speaking..." Source

Please God Save Us...

I don't know what to make of this:


From the Website:

What Is Please God Save Us From Your Followers
A book of art and words that address a variety of modern day topics including: the Republican Party, the Christian right, America's foreign policy, the environment, the Iraq War, stem cell research, evolution, rock and roll, the Fox News Channel, SpongeBob and Santa Claus. The book is intended to educate and inspire its readers whether or not they agree with either the art or the words. The book is not, however, meant to be an attack on Christianity but rather an interpretation of how religion is perverted to fit the needs of its followers, whomever they may be.

The Mindset List for the Class of 2012

Here is the Beloit College's "Mindset List" of characteristics that describe the new incoming Class of 2012. Considering that this is my "Summer of Harry Potter" (I'm reading all the books for the first time), I can appreciate the first characteristic!

Read it and weep, those over, say, 40.

--------------- From Beloit:

This month, almost 2 million first-year students will head off to college campuses around the country. Most of them will be about 18 years old, born in 1990 when headlines sounded oddly familiar to those of today: Rising fuel costs were causing airlines to cut staff and flight schedules; Big Three car companies were facing declining sales and profits; and a president named Bush was increasing the number of troops in the Middle East in the hopes of securing peace. However, the mindset of this new generation of college students is quite different from that of the faculty about to prepare them to become the leaders of tomorrow.

Each August for the past 11 years, Beloit College in Beloit, Wis., has released the Beloit College Mindset List. It provides a look at the cultural touchstones that shape the lives of students entering college. The class of 2012 has grown up in an era where computers and rapid communication are the norm, and colleges no longer trumpet the fact that residence halls are “wired” and equipped with the latest hardware. These students will hardly recognize the availability of telephones in their rooms since they have seldom utilized landlines during their adolescence. They will continue to live on their cell phones and communicate via texting. Roommates, few of whom have ever shared a bedroom, have already checked out each other on Facebook where they have shared their most personal thoughts with the whole world.

It is a multicultural, politically correct and “green” generation that has hardly noticed the threats to their privacy and has never feared the Russians and the Warsaw Pact.

Students entering college for the first time this fall were generally born in 1990.

For these students, Sammy Davis Jr., Jim Henson, Ryan White, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Freddy Krueger have always been dead.

1. Harry Potter could be a classmate, playing on their Quidditch team.
2. Since they were in diapers, karaoke machines have been annoying people at parties.
3. They have always been looking for Carmen Sandiego.
4. GPS satellite navigation systems have always been available.
5. Coke and Pepsi have always used recycled plastic bottles.
6. Shampoo and conditioner have always been available in the same bottle.
7. Gas stations have never fixed flats, but most serve cappuccino.
8. Their parents may have dropped them in shock when they heard George Bush announce “tax revenue increases.”
9. Electronic filing of tax returns has always been an option.
10. Girls in head scarves have always been part of the school fashion scene.
11. All have had a relative--or known about a friend's relative--who died comfortably at home with Hospice.
12. As a precursor to “whatever,” they have recognized that some people “just don’t get it.”
13. Universal Studios has always offered an alternative to Mickey in Orlando.
14. Grandma has always had wheels on her walker.
15. Martha Stewart Living has always been setting the style.
16. Haagen-Dazs ice cream has always come in quarts.
17. Club Med resorts have always been places to take the whole family.
18. WWW has never stood for World Wide Wrestling.
19. Films have never been X rated, only NC-17.
20. The Warsaw Pact is as hazy for them as the League of Nations was for their parents.
21. Students have always been "Rocking the Vote.”
22. Clarence Thomas has always sat on the Supreme Court.
23. Schools have always been concerned about multiculturalism.
24. We have always known that “All I Ever Really Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.”
25. There have always been gay rabbis.
26. Wayne Newton has never had a mustache.
27. College grads have always been able to Teach for America.
28. IBM has never made typewriters.
29. Roseanne Barr has never been invited to sing the National Anthem again.
30. McDonald’s and Burger King have always used vegetable oil for cooking french fries.
31. They have never been able to color a tree using a raw umber Crayola.
32. There has always been Pearl Jam.
33. The Tonight Show has always been hosted by Jay Leno and started at 11:35 EST.
34. Pee-Wee has never been in his playhouse during the day.
35. They never tasted Benefit Cereal with psyllium.
36. They may have been given a Nintendo Game Boy to play with in the crib.
37. Authorities have always been building a wall across the Mexican border.
38. Lenin’s name has never been on a major city in Russia.
39. Employers have always been able to do credit checks on employees.
40. Balsamic vinegar has always been available in the U.S.
41. Macaulay Culkin has always been Home Alone.
42. Their parents may have watched The American Gladiators on TV the day they were born.
43. Personal privacy has always been threatened.
44. Caller ID has always been available on phones.
45. Living wills have always been asked for at hospital check-ins.
46. The Green Bay Packers (almost) always had the same starting quarterback.
47. They never heard an attendant ask “Want me to check under the hood?”
48. Iced tea has always come in cans and bottles.
49. Soft drink refills have always been free.
50. They have never known life without Seinfeld references from a show about “nothing.”
51. Windows 3.0 operating system made IBM PCs user-friendly the year they were born.
52. Muscovites have always been able to buy Big Macs.
53. The Royal New Zealand Navy has never been permitted a daily ration of rum.
54. The Hubble Space Telescope has always been eavesdropping on the heavens.
55. 98.6 F or otherwise has always been confirmed in the ear.
56. Michael Milken has always been a philanthropist promoting prostate cancer research.
57. Off-shore oil drilling in the United States has always been prohibited.
58. Radio stations have never been required to present both sides of public issues.
59. There have always been charter schools.
60. Students always had Goosebumps.

New Buffalo

My church of preference - that would be St. Paul's Church in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, where I serve (okay, I'm biased) - has played host over the last few years to a myriad of musical recordings, mostly from people who attend St. Paul's.

More recently, one of that group of performers/singer-songwriters/producers yielded an article in The Village Voice where St. Paul's is mentioned.

I guess I now live in a hipper, cooler area of New York City - BoCoCa! Go figure.

Here is the story in The Village Voice.

Here are photos of my church of preference, during Lent:




Wrong choice

Joe Biden is a mistake! Talk about going backwards - picking someone of the "old school" (and this time "old school" isn't a cool thing).

I would never have voted for Biden if he won the Democratic nomination when he ran to be the party's candidate years ago, and this choice by Obama will pull many non-committed, independent, or Republicans leaning toward him away from supporting the Obama campaign.

I just don't know why he chose Biden. It really puts a bump in the road for me, even though I know that traditionally the Vice President does little. Biden knows what he is talking about - he is smart - I just don't like the way he goes about his business.

I wonder why Biden accepted, also. At this point in his political career. It seems to be that he would have far more "power" in the Senate than he will in the office of the Vice President. Does he really want to play the "attach dog" role?

I don't know. Maybe I am completely wrong.

The Bible - GPS

The Bible is a GPS for life. We trust that a GPS will get us to our destination. Why do we wonder whether the Bible can get us to our life destination?

We only need to know where we want to end up!

The City #25

Well, it is coming to the end of August, and, well, the City is empty! I've spent 5 summers in New York City and it seems to be that this month is the emptiest of any I've experienced. Now, I well know that when I write, "empty," that it is an exaggeration, but getting a seat on the subway, taxing around in slight traffic, quickly finding a parking place, walking along and not bumping into as many people makes it seem "empty."

My doctor even said he has no idea to where all the people went.

In a couple of weeks, however, schools will have begun and most people will have returned from their vacations. Once again, New York life will return to "normal."

Oh the hypocrisy of it all...

I've written about this before, but once again the hypocrisy and myopic vision and capitulation to the prevailing culture is so blatant that I just can't help myself. The "politicized Religious Right" (which currently predominates American-Evangelical life and thought) loves to talk about their freedom to express their religious viewpoints within the culture and uphold their rights under the Constitution. They most certainly do have such a right, and I support their determination (as I would most groups) because I have witnessed first hand the discrimination and condescension that some so-called "progressives/liberals" engage in when it comes to Christian people of faith or conservatives.

That being said, while I will uphold the right of the politicized Religious Right to advocate for their positions and the right for their voice to be heard, they work against the same consideration for those who hold opinions and positions different than their own. They don't immediately make apparent such determined thoughts or actions, but an undergirding goal is to squelch opposing viewpoints because they consider such viewpoints damning. After all, they believe they know absolutely God's mind on things social and political and therefore have the divine right to squelch anything that "opposes God" (based on their sectarian and ideological opinion).

I don't necessarily have a problem with them thinking such things (because all groups do to some extent), but I do have a problem with them presenting themselves as defenders of liberty and democracy and freedom when they know full well that is not their end-goal. Their end-goal is the imposition of their opinion upon everyone else, for everyone else's own good since they alone know God's will so completely. I was with the Evangelicals for a good part of my early adult life until I saw the writing on the wall concerning their drive for political power, so I know of their attitudes and their way of regarding and "handling" non-Christians within American culture. This is the working out of concepts informed by "Dominion Theology" or more broadly "Dominionism," whether the principals involved ascribe to Dominion Theology or not.

In their quest to institute their presumed version of God's Kingdom on earth, they have capitulated to the Kingdom of this World in ways they don't realize - because in their quest for social and political dominance they succumb to very unChristian tactics, such as lying and spreading false information (bearing false witness). Sometimes, they do realize what they are doing, but the end justifies the means in their minds. The leadership is so sure of their presumed God-given mission to dominate and control the culture and social systems that their regard for the rights of others, if those others oppose their juggernaut, as dangerous or counter to God's willing being done.

Take as an example the following warning that Focus-on-the-Family's CitizenUpdate published yesterday in their daily e-mail message. It is about Hallmark greeting card company and the 1,000 or so newspapers that, in their opinion, disobey the will of The People and state Constitutions. The next step for them, if they could get away with it, is to attempt to pass laws that will forbid newspapers or private cooperations from making cards for or publish announcements for gay weddings or commitment ceremonies. It isn't enough that by their efforts state consitutional amendments are passed denying same-sex couples equal protection under the law, but they must go further because these kinds of cards or announcements work against their vision for the country or their presumption of God's will.

Here is the announcement:

Take Action: Hallmark, Newspapers Sidestep State Marriage Amendments

More than 1,000 daily newspapers in the U.S. now accept gay "wedding" announcements. And Hallmark now offers greeting cards for gay "weddings."

While it's not illegal for newspapers or Hallmark to cater to the homosexual community, they are disrespecting the law in 27 states — states that have defined marriage in their constitutions as between one man and one woman.

See here what they do - they will attempt to force private cooperations and generally law abiding citizens to bend to their will. It isn't a matter of freedom of speech for all people, but freedom of speech only as long as it does not counter their "law." Continuing on...
"It's entirely possible that newspaper staff has not connected the dots between having a state constitutional amendment and requests to publish same-sex 'marriage' or commitment announcements," said Carrie Gordon Earll, senior director of Issue Analysis at Focus on the Family Action. "Readers should give publishers the benefit of the doubt unless and until they determine that the newspaper is in fact disrespecting the vote of the people and publishing such counterfeit announcements.

"At that point, people need to hold the newspapers accountable."


Check this list to see which newspapers are sidestepping state law. If your state is not listed, there is no marriage amendment in place yet. Please call your local or regional newspaper. You can check our Action Center for contact information, or visit the newspaper's Web site.

Ask to speak to the person who handles wedding announcements, then ask:

1) Are you aware the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation lists your newspaper as having a policy to publish same-sex "marriage" or commitment ceremony announcements? Is that correct?

2) If so, are you aware that our state has a constitutional amendment defining marriage as only between one man and one woman?

3) If so, how do you reconcile publishing such announcements when such unions are illegal under state law?

If the answer you receive is unsatisfactory, ask to speak to the editor. You also may contact the publisher. Let us know how it goes.

I'm willing to bet that if a newspaper does not stop publishing wedding or marriage announcements for same-sex couples, these organizations will attempt to shame them into doing so, will attempt to boycott them into obeying, and will eventually sue the newspapers for "violating the state Constitution that defines a marriage as being between one woman and one man" by publishing same-sex wedding/marriage announcements. Whatever it takes to force their will upon the rest of the citizenry, in very undemocratic forms. (If Proposition 8 fails in California this fall - if The People vote to not define marriage as only between a man and a woman - these groups will certainly not abide by or uphold the Will of the People, because the People's will in this case will be contrary to the Religious Right's anti-gay agenda.)

Why do I give a rats-ass about this? Because currently the politicized Religious Right is the image of Christianity in American that most Americans see most often, particularly non-Christians. It is an image of Christianity that is so compromised by political aspirations and lying that they have sacrificed their witness to the secular world. Hypocrisy is too little of a word to convey the damage they continue to do to the cause of Christ, even as they see themselves of upholders and advocates of God's very will.

Internet Neutrality

I started dealing with World Wide Web, the currently most popular segment of the Internet, from the early 90's - almost from the beginning. I created Websites for my academic unit at Kent State and diocese before Microsoft even got involved. I remember the incredible dreams of those who saw a future of a free and neutral means of communication available to the common person - that was the early days of the Internet.

For those who might be interested:

Matthew25 Network

A year or so ago, I ran into a Roman, as in Catholic and not nationality, priest on a subway car. I don't see Roman Catholic priests in clericals very often, so I wondered whether he might be an Episcopalian or perhaps a Lutheran. We talked a bit and have gotten together a couple of times, one being yesterday. When I was showing him around St. Paul's, he mentioned the confessional booth we have in the back of the nave. It hasn't been used in a long time, primarily because when someone wants to confess it is usually done face-to-face these days.

I mentioned that I've been thinking about wanting to return to using the booth for a type of confession in a kind of way that may resonate with young folks who do not have a history or tradition of confession.

In Christianity Today (August, 2008 edition), there is an article of an Evangelical pastor and his church and the decision that several of them made to decide together to actually live out Leviticus for a month. Now, they didn't live the judgments - what was to be done if a law was actually broken. If they did, they would end up in prison - can't go around killing children when they talk back to their parents. The outcome and what they experienced and learned is interesting.

The pastor wrote the following about a fellow participant in the experiment, which coming from an American-Evangelical is of interest to me. The following quote gets to the growing use of the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer by American-Evangelicals/Reformed Christians (and I'm sure to the chagrin of many older American-Evangelical leaders that consider anything touched by the heretical Episcopal Church to be anathema). It also gets to the point about the sense I have concerning confession. Anyway, he wrote:

"For the participants in the Levitical experience, its power for personal transformation was unexpected and perhaps the most rewarding aspect. One wrote, 'I had a hard time with Leviticus month. For about 30 days and 18 hours, I groused and complained... Early in the month I had been reading through the sacrificial section and was convinced that the modern-day, post-Jesus equivalent is confession. This is something I knew about from my Catholic days, but it had never been part of my life. I was not interested in doing this again - but the way I was not wanting to made me think that I really ought to. So I looked up the Episcopal liturgy, made arrangements with an accommodating confessor, took a very deep breath, and jumped in.' [Emphasis mine. I will assume he went to an Episcopal priest as his confessor, since it was the Episcopal liturgy of "Reconciliation of a Penitent" that he referred to, but perhaps not.]

"'I don't know what I was expecting, but this was not what I was expecting. This was Large. This was a Major Life Event. I spent hours dredging up the muck in my life and preparing my list - and then it was all washed away. Gone. I was walking on air. And all of a sudden I knew that I was in a really good place and I did not want to muck it up anymore. Okay God, I prayed, this is fantastic. I want to stay here. Whaddya want me to do?' Needless to say, reading through Leviticus again looked so different in light of grace." (p. 33)

I do think there is a whole bunch of people who would find confession an incredible experience, if they could get beyond their self-consciousness, fear, lack of trust in a confessor, or who knows what. It is a practice that I have been anticipating for a while now, but I just haven't gotten to it. I should. While I know that God has already forgiven me my sins as I confess to Him, a confessor is one who can confirm when I still doubt that God has truly forgiven me, restored me, and makes me able to freely forgive those who "sin against me."

Fr. Dan of "Catholic in the Third Millennium" makes the following statements concerning Anglican catholicity and with respect to our current problems ideas of a "magisterium" to solve our problems. (Fr. Dan describes himself as: "Vice President and Academic Dean of an ecumenical seminary and a priest in the Episcopal Diocese of Texas.")

He writes:

I accept the premise that an "Anglican magisterium" would make Anglican life so much easier. But would it make Anglicanism more "catholic"? Would it solve the issues that so divide the Anglican Communion today? Or, rather, would it solidify for all time certain theological innovations in the name of "Anglican doctrinal development"? I believe the latter to be more likely, and I believe that supposedly "infallible" Roman dogmas (e.g., the Immaculate Conception) make the point better than I ever could.

Such a scenario, of course, is nonsensical. An "Anglican magisterium" is about as oxymoronic a term as one can imagine. However, my point should be obvious: the Anglican way of being "catholic" (or living into catholicity) is different than the Roman way. So why is it that Roman apologists (many of them ex-Anglicans, I might add) only come out to play when they have homefield advantage? Obviously it's futile to argue for the catholicity of Anglicanism on Roman terms. So I won't. I will be content to argue for the catholicity of Anglicanism on Anglican terms.

At first, it may appear odd to my readers to hear me suggest that Anglicanism has its "own terms" or definition of catholicity. But it shouldn't. I have argued on a number of occasions that each of the three major apostolic communions (i.e., Roman, Byzantine, Anglican) operate on quite different understandings of what it means to be "one, holy, catholic, and apostolic." Romanism and Byzantinism both make claims of ecclesial ultimacy. But their respective claims are mutually exclusive, as the former insists on papal supremacy and the latter on the received faith of the ecumenical councils. Thus, despite whatever superficial similarities Rome and Byzantium may have, they are different ways of understanding what it means to be catholic. In contrast, Anglicanism has never made a claim of ecclesial ultimacy, and so defines itself not as the Catholic Church, but rather as a catholic church, and thus recognizes the other two communions as legitimate branches of "the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church." Unlike Fr. Kimel, I see this as Anglicanism's greatest strength, not its weakness. And if it survives the present struggles, then it will only be that much stronger.

I agree that Anglicans do not have to define our catholicity in Roman terms or in Byzantine terms. It makes little difference to me whether Rome or Constantinople recognize each other or Canterbury as being truly part of the "one Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church" or not. I don't believe we (Anglicans) are in competition with either communion or that we are approaching the question of catholicity from a place of insecurity, thus needing approval from anyone else. After all, we think Rome has erred (as we all do from time-to-time). We shouldn't and don't have to seek their approval. Rome doesn't determine our catholicity, but some want to think that the Roman Church does just that. Without the Pope's imprimatur, well then we are just Protestant or Catholic wannabees, or some such thing.

Fr. Dan continues:

You see, believe it or not, I still believe in "common prayer catholicity..."

Rather Anglicanism is a way of being catholic, or living into catholicity, that has proven itself very effective and extremely resilient over the last nearly 500 years of this independent Anglican experiment. I still believe that Anglicanism is a movement of God. I may be wrong. But why should I give up on it now?


Here is the sad truth (at least as I see it, and of course the way I see it is of the utmost importance, right?):

If you stand in a middle place where you can recognize the validity of arguments or positions concerning touchy issues held by opposing groups spanning the theological divide, you are called a “heretic” by the howlers standing on the edges of the opposing ideological cliffs. The considered middle-way gets you little respect in war zones. It is hard to hold a position between hyper-individuality and group-think. You can't win, at least as the world defines "winning!"

Anglicanism has traditionally straddled the divide between Continental Reformation and Roman Catholic ideologies/dogmas, and of course it has been skewered by both Protestants and Roman Catholics, by Evangelicals and Ritualists, by conservatives and liberals alike.

Anglicanism can't "win" on the world stage because most of the world demands certainty, conformity, and capitulation - but we don't. At least we haven't, generally. Well, at least it has continued on fairly successfully up until now, and we don't know what will happen next. Will we now capitulate to those that demand conformity and certainty, whether they are yowling on this or that cliff side?

Nothing says such things as democracy, rationality, love/good-will, or even good manners will rule the day. Anglicanism survives - not as the largest expression of Christianity, not as the smallest, but it survives uniquely.

I read stuff put out by both sides of the angry and bitter theological and pietistic battles going on in The Episcopal Church and Anglicanism. I hold positions and opinions that some will call conservative or traditionalist and that some will call liberal or innovationist. I could be wrong on all of them. When some demand that I "choose this day" with whom I will align unquestionably, I say, "No, I'm not going to jump onto a conformist, sectarian cliff." I'm determined to remain an Anglican with strong opinions but without desire to boot those with whom I disagree. I still have choice.

I can agree with many conservatives who say that The Episcopal Church has been going down a path that leads it into a wilderness of quasi-Christian belief and experience. I agree that by going down this path we lose the essence of what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ, we lose our power - rather the power of God working through the Church to transform lives - and we loose whatever it is that compels people to want to find and experience God within our walls. People may find nice ideology or music, but they may be hard pressed to find God, despite the verbiage. So, put me on the rack.

I agree with those who say that we are not a dogmatic or confessional Church, and that we should not become one! I agree that we can simply (and I do mean simply) choose to stay together. I agree that ambiguity and doubt are not twin evils. I agree that there can be a generous orthodoxy, and that the messiness of Anglicanism that stems from its refusal to codify certain sectarian or dogmatic statements is not giving ourselves over to the culture. I believe I have not be blinded by Satan for thinking such things (I can still verbally pronounce "Jesus is Lord" without conflict, so there!). I believe there can be legitimate and honest differences of opinion over biblical interpretation and application or pressing issues (over issues of homosexuality or women's ordination, for example) without giving up the faith or giving up our catholicity. Pull the ropes tighter.

I, for one, wish we would obey Jesus in his two great commandments to love God with all of our selves and to love our neighbors as ourselves. All those standing on the edges of opposing cliffs demanding absolute assurity of opinion and position would rather shriek across the divide "HERESY" with fang laden smiles than love their enemies. It feels better.

Well, here is a statement, or a quote, that I read this morning from the blog of Fr. Jeffrey Steel. The post is entitle, "The Old Orthodoxy and a Fight." The blog seems to be of the kind that is a bit reactionary and "Catholic" (as opposed to the reactionary and "American-Evangelical" variety). I readily agree, however, with what is written. I see it.

"It can always be urged against it that it is in its nature arbitrary and in the air. But it is not so high in the air but that great archers spend their whole lives in shooting arrows at it -- yes, and their last arrows; there are men who will ruin themselves and ruin their civilization if they may ruin also this old fantastic tale. This is the last and most astounding fact about this faith; that its enemies will use any weapon against it, the swords that cut their own fingers, and the firebrands that burn their own homes.

"Men who begin to fight the Church for the sake of freedom and humanity end by flinging away freedom and humanity if only they may fight the Church. This is no exaggeration; I could fill a book with the instances of it. Mr. Blatchford set out, as an ordinary Bible-smasher, to prove that Adam was guiltless of sin against God; in manoeuvring so as to maintain this he admitted, as a mere side issue, that all the tyrants, from Nero to King Leopold, were guiltless of any sin against humanity...

"We do not admire, we hardly excuse, the fanatic who wrecks this world for love of the other. But what are we to say of the fanatic who wrecks this world out of hatred of the other? He sacrifices the very existence of humanity to the non-existence of God. He offers his victims not to the altar, but merely to assert the idleness of the altar and the emptiness of the throne. He is ready to ruin even that primary ethic by which all things live, for his strange and eternal vengeance upon some one who never lived at all."


I would not agree with Fr. Steel (or the original author), however, if he believes that to save the catholicity or orthodoxy or validity of this Church Anglican that there can be little allowance for differences of opinion over hot-button issues, resulting in the demand to capitulate to a sectarian certainty (be it Roman Catholic or American-Evangelical, conservative or liberal). That kind of attitude is to attempt to beat into submission Anglicans that do not hold to the same dogmatic certainty demanded by all those standing on the edge of their own cliff, all the while yelling, "give us our own freedom." It just isn't Anglican (or maybe it is too Anglican??).

Prayers, or something

This was a comment made by a women on a website for new software that "cleans up" our iTunes library. I cracked up!

"thank the lawd bb jesus for this one. can't wait for the mac version because my itunes definitely needs a tune up. forrr sho'."
I have to remember that, "Thank the lawd bb jesus!" Almost like "weejus" prayers I learned about while doing "CPE" (Clinical Pastoral Education) as a chaplain in a hospital during seminary. What are "weejus" prayers, you might ask? Well...

"Lawd bb jesus, weejus ask that you take care of sister..."

Kirstin Dehaan

Had a very nice conversation with her and her friend/boyfriend/husband(?) one evening a couple weeks ago, by chance, eating good pasta on the bar at Fragole.

She is in Berlin about now, on tour.

Kirstin Dehaan

Under the Richter Scale - Russian Roulette

And I’m screamin' cause no one’s listening
To our children whose eyes are watching
Oh we’re defining what’s worth living
Should be deceiving or should we be giving
Oh I’m begging for a little

The City #24

Okay, I'm getting to work a little late today because of a blood test (cholesteral). Coming out of the subway on 6th and 40th, by Bryant Park, suddenly the line up the steps stop. There is a crowd, and I think, "What is going on?" Finally, I'm getting closer to the top and I hear all kinds of screaming and hoards of people. Then I though, "Oh, yeah, its the Good Morning America Summer Concert Series in Bryant Park - they do this every Friday.

There is a cop right there at the subway exit blocking entrance to the sidewalk leading east along 40th St., across the street from the park. I had to actually show my work ID to get through the barricades.

Swarms of pre-pubescent girls everywhere - all texting like mad, all taking photos of themselves and their friends with their cell phones. I guess they started lining up last night. They had sleeping bags. I wondered why, on the way home last night, GMA and Bryant Park had all kinds of extra barricades and "General Admission Signs" all over.

It's the Jonas Brothers! Damn Nickelodeon, or is it Disney?

Overheard: "I've got to get home. I've been up 24 hours." That isn't so bad, but as I turned the corner onto 5th Ave.... Okay, I'm four stories up in CPG and on the other side of the block and I hear them screaming... anyway, I turned the corner and there was a bus for, I guess, the brothers, girls everyone. They were kissing the bus. They were actually kissing... the... bus.

Well, there you go. A "typical" day in the City. By the way, Feist certainly didn't get this kind of attention. Hum....

Get back to

To return to later:

Archbishop of Canterbury's Sermon at York Minster (describe as "the heavy yoke of self-justification")

Chief Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks's address to the Lambeth Conference:
- Text
- Video

Alan Jacobs has a good thing to say about the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Alan has joined a breakaway Anglican church, rather than slogging through Anglicanism's (or The Episcopal Church's) problems, and he describes why. I fully understand his reasons. Yet, both of us will look in some way to the See of Canterbury as one of our loci of identity. He writes of Rowan Williams:

But in these past few days I have been wondering whether there might be a method in Rowan’s madness — or rather in God’s. Might it be possible that while Rowan is most certainly not the kind of leader we want, he is precisely the kind we need? That his leadership is not that of a Churchill but rather a Desert Father? We want decision, action, clearly set plans; Rowan offers prayer, meditation, stillness, silence. He models those disciplines for us, and in so doing (silently) commends them... What if that is what we Anglicans actually need? What if our desire for decision and action is actually distracting us from what the Lord God is calling us to do and be?
A very good question!

I think I am coming to a place of, words fail me - something, in all the troubles of this Church. Men will do all manner of things in their high minded certitude that result in dissolution, if not destruction. We can't help it, really, because self-centered self-righteousness has gotten into our bones. There is, of course, a way out or over this particular human proclivity, but few will take up the cure.

So, for me, within the worldly realm and within the Church structures, I will look to the See of Canterbury as a locus of my identify as an Anglican Christian, regardless of what high-mined men and women decide they must do. If others want to do the same, great. If we don't agree on most things, so be it. If they want to yell at me and call me names or cast me into outer darkness, then so be it. I will not return the favor (but I reserve the right to critique). I do think Rowan is a good person in this office to look to.

As Julian might say, "All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well."

Blogging as a Pensieve

In many ways, this blog is like a "Pensieve" from the Harry Potter books. What is a Pensieve, you might ask. Well, a "Pensieve" is a stone receptacle in which to store memories. It contains memories that take physical form as a type of matter that is described as neither liquid nor gas. A person can extract their own memories or another person’s, store them in the Pensieve, and review them later. It also relieves the mind when it becomes cluttered with information. Anyone can examine the memories in the Pensieve.

As I've said before, much of what appears in this blog is not really my attempt to make declarative statements about issues or beliefs, but as a way to work through or wrestle with issues and ideas "out loud." I may "try out" an idea. I may play "devils advocate." I may vent frustration or disappointment or anger over something or someone. I may post something simply because it simply pleases me and I want to remember it.

Like reading through the Harry Potter books one after another and observing the progression of maturation and experiences lived through by the characters, I see this life as a progression and as much as I hate the word "journey" as it is used in the current vernacular, our Christian lives are nothing but a journey into an "undiscovered country," the Kingdom of Heaven that Jesus tried to convey to his disciples in the Gospel lessons a couple weeks ago. In this sense the Christian life has much in common with the Buddhist life. They are both means for living, and not religions. Christianity is different and distinct, however, because of the claims of Jesus and issues of the divine that have to be dealt with, but the way of life called for by both is similar. Religions have grown up around both, also.

Anyway, blogging (and journaling in general) reveals the journey. As a "Pensieve," I put things in this blog that I fully intend to return to. Other people can witness this process, this journey, these memories and these thoughts that I intended to pick more fully, later. Not as fully experienced or fleshed out as within a "real Pensieve," however. I'm sure some think I'm, well, "nutters" in one way or another.

The point of a "Penseive" is not to impress people or to persuade people or to cause them to like you. The point is to deposit thoughts, ideas, memories, that clutter the mind but to which you wish to return. "Oh, that's good, I don't want to forget that, but I don't have time right now to deal with it," might be the thinking. Sometimes, there is just too much to think about at any one time.

So, this is my "Pensieve," for what it's worth.

We think we have problems...

Over at SARX, there is a good post the touches on Anglicans, the Orthodox (as in Eastern Orthodox), and the idea that if we look at the world of Orthodoxy, we realize that our Anglican problems are not the one problems.

A couple take-away sentences:

Bishop Alan posted a joke about Episcopalians being a disorganised religion and I noted in my reply that, in fact, many Orthodox (converts, mostly) are horrified to realise exactly how disorganised Orthodoxy is... Add to that infighting over “modernism” and “traditionalism” as well as ecumenism (which means, in the states, just accepting the baptism of other churches, while in some other locations it means inter-communion and intermarriage) you end up with a picture of Messy that far outstrips or, maybe, exactly parallels Anglicanism.
Will we end up like the Eastern Orthodox, will we end up like the Roman Catholics, or will we remain distinctly Anglican?

I want to remain Anglican, frankly. Let those who want a pope cross the Tiber, let those who want the Orthodox model go over to Constantinople, but why do they insist that Anglicans cannot or should not remain, well, Anglican?

Harry Potter and Jacob

I feel like I should be posting something...

Has anyone noticed how Harry Potter and Jacob (son of Isaac, grandson of Abraham) are a lot alike?

I celebrated at a different parish this past Sunday (yesterday).

At one point, I equated Harry Potter with Jacob wrestling...

I explained that the reason I brought up Harry Potter is because to a generation of people, Harry Potter exerts a great deal of influence upon their understanding of their times. They see in Harry and Ron and Hermione, themselves. They see their own life stories in the characters of the Harry Potter books.

Scripture used to play that kind of role for far more people than it does, today. People much more easily experienced the stories of Scripture by seeing themselves in the lives of the characters of the Bible. The West made Scripture into an object to examine and deconstruct, rather than seeing a story through which we better understand ourselves. We have to prove it, rather than feel it. People feel Harry Potter. They don't have to deconstruct or prove anything.

We lost the forest because we focus so much on twigs.

Kind of like the different between Latin and Sanskrit.

April 2011

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